And All That Jazz

Well, we have just had a few days of thoughtful remembrance and have celebrated Memorial Day in all kinds of ways. Parades, Barbecues, Picnics, Prayer gatherings, Visits to cemeteries, Waving of flags.

But did you know that Saturday, the 25th, was also National Jazz Day?! AND National Tap Dance Day?! Did you do any dancing this weekend? Well, I sure did! I don’t actually have any tap shoes, but my nails do a pretty good tapping on the tile floor! And we have a local radio station that plays some pretty good jazz!

The Mom Person has a boy who is a real jazz fan, so she decided that it would be a good thing to get him some new jazz books for Father’s Day. That will be coming up soon. He happens to be the Dad of My Princess Reading Buddies. Well, the books came in the mail today and are they ever SUPER!!!! And if you promise not to tell Mr Princess Dad, I’ll tell you all about them!


john coltraneBefore John Was a Jazz Giant, a Song of John Coltrane is by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Sean Qualls. It was published by Henry Holt & Co. in 2008. It was a 2009 winner of a Coretta Scott King illustrator honor and a 2009 Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year. Isn’t that something?! The book is a rhythmic story of John Coltrane’s childhood and all the sounds that he heard and listened to that lead him to the sounds of jazz music. At the end of the book is an author’s note about Mr Coltrane’s real biography. And some lists of more resources. This is a fine little book, with bubbly, jazzy illustrations. It makes me want to go outside and listen to the world.

jazz flyThe Jazz Fly is written and performed by Matthew Gollub and illustrated by Karen Hanke. It was published by Tortuga Press in 2000. It comes with an audio CD!! Jazz Fly is trying to get to town but doesn’t know the way, so he stops to ask various critters for help. But he speaks Jazz and they speak whatever, so they don’t understand each other. But the Fly hears music in their words. This is such a great read aloud!! Jazz Rhythm! Some of the verses rhyme and some don’t. There is an author’s note at the end of the book to explain this. He shows you how the words are meant to be accented like jazz music. Then he says, “But don’t feel bound to the way I recite the story. Play with the phrases. Acquaint them with your mouth.” I like that. This is a really fun book!!

jazz a b zAnd the really WOW book, that the Mom Person is trying to decide if she wants to keep for herself or not, is Jazz A-B-Z, an A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits by Wynton Marsalis and illustrated by Paul Rogers. It was published by Candlewick Press in 2005. Candlewick Press puts out the absolute best books!  This is a virtual encyclopedia of jazz! And poetry! Each letter is represented by a jazz musician and a different type of poem. So you have A is for Louis Armstrong with an Accumulative poem. H is Coleman Hawkins with a Substitution poem. N is for Nat King Cole with a nursery rhyme. Z is for Dizzy Gillespie with a Skeltonic verse. (Ms Catherine Johnson, I think you would love this book!) At the end of the book are biographical sketches of all the musicians and notes on all the different poetic forms. Incredible!!!

So there you have it! Jazz and more Jazz! ( I have a friend named Jazz who is a crazy, jazzy golden retriever!)

And now for a little music from Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones —

and a little Tapping with Eleanor Powell to go with —